Colorado Division of Criminal Justice Publishes Report on Impacts of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado, Part One


(LAKEWOOD, Colo., Oct. 26, 2018) – The Colorado Division of Criminal Justice Office of Research and Statistics today (October 26, 2018) released “Impacts on Marijuana Legalization in Colorado,” a report that compiles and analyzes data on marijuana-related topics including crime, impaired driving, hospitalizations and ER visits, usage rates, effects on youth, and more.

In 2013, the Colorado General Assembly passed SB 13-283 directing the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) within the Department of Public Safety to conduct a study of the impacts of Amendment 64, which legalized the retail sale and possession of recreational marijuana for adults over age 21.

“This is exactly the kind of data collection we need to inform our regulatory and law enforcement framework,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “We now have that ever-critical baseline from which we can spot trends so Colorado’s leaders understand where our efforts are succeeding and identify areas where we need to focus additional research, resources or even new policy.”

The data in the report was collected and provided by various local, state and national sources, and thus some of the data has previously been released or reported on by other safety agencies. The “Impacts on Marijuana Legalization in Colorado” report is unique in that it seeks to present a comprehensive analysis of as many data points as possible in order to provide an accurate and unbiased resource to policy makers and the public.

“This report is compiled by professional researchers analyzing data from dozens of different resources. Hundreds of hours of research go into this publication, with a painstaking effort to present an unbiased and transparent report with credible data for all consumers,” said Stan Hilkey, Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety. “Integrity in the pursuit of being both comprehensive and honest about where data gaps exist is important to our professional research staff. I believe this report will be a helpful tool to inform policy makers, parents, school staff, law enforcement, the marijuana industry and others to better understand the effects of legal marijuana in our communities.”

The full study can be found online at


Data suggests that law enforcement and prosecutors are aggressively pursuing cases against black market activity. The quantity of cases filed for serious marijuana-related crimes has remained consistent with pre-legalization levels, however organized crime cases have generally increased since 2008.

Felony marijuana court case filings (conspiracy, manufacturing, distribution, and possession with intent to sell) declined from 2008 to 2014, but increased from 2015 through 2017.

The most recent increase in filings might be in part because legislation changed the legal indoor plant count, providing law enforcement agencies with greater clarity and tools to increase their enforcement of black market activity.

Felony filings in 2017 (907) were still below 2008 filings (1,431).  Filings in organized-crime cases followed a similar pattern, with a dip in 2012 and 2013 followed by a significant increase since 2014.  There were 31 organized crime case filings in 2012 and 119 in 2017.  Filings for juveniles under 18 remain at the same level as pre-legalization.

DUI & Traffic Fatalities

The impact of marijuana consumption on the safety of drivers is a major focus, as any fatality on our roadways is a concern. More data about the impairing effects of marijuana and more consistent testing of drivers for marijuana are needed to truly understand the scope of marijuana impairment and its relation to non-fatal crashes.

The number of trained Drug Recognition Experts increased from 129 in 2012 to 214 in 2018, a 66% increase. Thousands of additional officers have been trained in Advanced Roadside Impairment Detection.

Colorado State Patrol (CSP) DUI cases overall were down 15% from 2014 to 2017.

The percentage of CSP citations with marijuana-only impairment has stayed steady, at around 7%. The percentage of CSP citations with any marijuana nexus rose from 12% in 2012 to 17% in 2016, then dropped to 15% in 2017.

About 10% of people in treatment for a DUI self-reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse, compared to 86% who report alcohol as their primary drug of abuse.

The percent of drivers in fatal crashes who tested positive for Delta-9 THC at the 5ng/mL level decreased from 11.6% in 2016 to 7.5% in 2017.

The number of fatalities where a driver tested positive for any cannabinoid (Delta 9 or any other metabolite) increased from 55 (11% of all fatalities) in 2013 to 139 (21% of all fatalities) in 2017.

(Editor’s Note:  The second half of this lengthy report will be available online the morning of Thursday, November 1)


Filed Under: Consumer IssuesCountyEconomyEducationEnvironmentFeaturedHealthHot TopicsLaw EnforcementMedia ReleasePolice ReportPublic SafetyRecreationSchoolThe Journal Alert


About the Author: